Police officers missed the palm-sized, .380 semiautomatic handgun when Bennie Ellison, 39, was arrested March 18 at 78th and Euclid, authorities said.
Bennie Ellison had a gun tied to the inside of the front of his pants and brought the weapon inside his Cook County Court bond hearing, according to prosecutors.
Ellison, of the 8200 block of South Chappel, had used the drawstring of his shorts to tie the gun so it dangled between his legs, Cook County sheriff’s spokesman Steve Patterson said.
The arresting officers patted him down and missed it. He was patted down again at the 4th District police station — where he spent the night — and again at Central Booking, but no one found the gun, authorities said.
The next day, he was taken to Central Bound Court at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse at 26th and California, where a sheriff’s deputy patted him down.
He then appeared in court — uncuffed — and had his bond set by a judge. He was then taken to the county jail, Patterson said.
Ellison managed to avoid a body scanner and a metal detector en route by slipping out of line and into a different line, Patterson said.
But when he was assigned to a jail division and realized he would have to change his clothes, he ditched the gun in a laundry room, Patterson said.
The gun, which had a bullet loaded in the chamber, was found two days later — March 21 — by a jail inmate who showed it to other inmates, although none of them touched it, prosecutors said.
Investigators traced the gun back to a Texas resident who had sold it another person who, in turn, sold it to Ellison, prosecutors said.
When questioned, Ellison gave a handwritten confession admitting he had the gun when he was arrested and brought before the judge. He also admitted dumping it in the laundry room, prosecutors said.
He told authorities he only kept it because he thought he might receive a low bond and be released soon, Patterson said.
Strip searches in the jail were recently ended after questions were raised in court about their legality. But the incident has led the sheriff’s office to re-examine the new procedures for searching detainees, Patterson said.
“Clearly, there were officers at the jail not doing their job and we’re in the process of taking statements from each one of them about how this could have happened,” Patterson said. “We’re taking this seriously and plan to enact discipline up to and including termination, if necessary.”
Ellison had initially been charged with possession of a controlled substance. He is now also charged with possession of contraband in a penal institution and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. He had a previous weapons violation on his record, officials said.
He was ordered held in lieu of a $25,000 cash bond.
Chicago Police officials said the incident is under investigation.